Barksdale aircrew fires first live AGM-142

Released: 19 Sep 2000
by Amn. David Jackson
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (AFPN) -- A B-52 Stratofortress crew from here conducted a unique live-fire missile test at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., recently as part of a weapon system evaluation program.

A 20th Bomb Squadron crew launched one AGM-142 Have Nap missile, which struck its target on the range. This missile was the first American-built AGM-142 to undergo a live-fire test.

"(This launch) shows the capability of the missile," said Capt. Mark Mount, B-52 aircraft commander.

The missile is a camera-guided weapon directed by the aircrew's radar navigator. A monitor inside the aircraft displays the view as seen by the missile's camera. The radar navigator then uses a control stick inside the B-52 to adjust the weapon to keep the camera's crosshairs on the target.

"It's kind of like a high-tech video game," said Capt. Rick Armstrong, B-52 radar navigator.

Part of the launch's success may be attributed to the Mission Rehearsal Training System, an AGM-142 simulator radar navigators use to practice missile launches and strikes.

"It's the first time we have used the Mission Rehearsal Training System to help us prepare," Armstrong said. "The system makes me feel more confident ... that I will hit my target in real life."

And he did.

Called Combat Hammer, the live-fire test analyzed data and evaluated the entire weapon system: the aircraft, aircrew, weapon, weapon delivery system, maintenance and support forces, as well as support equipment.

The AGM-142 carries a 750-pound warhead and has a range of more than 57 miles.

"It shows that we can strike a target, with accuracy, outside of most threat ranges," Armstrong said.

Because the missile is very accurate and expensive to produce, the Air Force only uses it for high-value targets such as power plants, refineries, communication complexes and command bunkers.

"It's a precision weapon and it is the largest penetration missile in the inventory; and the B-52 is the only airplane in the U.S. Air Force able to launch it," said Capt. Patrick Spaulding, instructor radar navigator.

After the seven-hour mission, the flight crew returned to Barksdale to celebrate the success. (Courtesy of Air Combat Command News Service)